Week Four in MLS happens to fall on one of what seems to be one of FIFA's 44 International Windows. You may be of the opinion that MLS needs to not schedule matches during these numerous and several weeks out of the year. Of course, if you hold that opinion, you probably overlook the fact that most of the match days are no longer filled with actual qualifying and tournament games and more often than not, pointless friendly matches where injuries tend to rack up and players are subjected to inordinate amounts of travel on top of their league & cup travel & matches. All the while, FIFA & the Confederations vacuum up money to subsidize the open and wanton corruption of FIFA operatives and those of it's Confederations and the National Federations.
Nevertheless, MLS Season 20 will march happily along with a full slate of 10 matches, sans about 60 players on international duty. While there may be some dip in quality for some clubs, what will be on display how well managers can deal with these absences and a chance to shine for some players who rarely get more than a garbage minute or two at the end of a lost cause match. And if you think only MLS managers have to deal with this FIFA/USSF manufactured problem, may I remind you that UEFA teams regularly lose scores of players during the AFCON tournament, and they seem to be able to deal with it. So, there it is. Now, on with Week 20:
New England vs. San Jose - 03/28/2015 - 3:00 ET
I'm not sure if New England knows if the season has started or not with 3 matches in and only a single point registered. Meanwhile San Jose has started surprisingly well at 2-1-0 and six points. If the Revolution can get their wounded back on the field, they might be able to scrape out a draw, otherwise, San Jose has proven they can win on the road in a tough environment and will likely do so again.
San Jose 2 | 0 New England. Watchable, but hardly entertaining.
Montreal Impact vs. Orlando City - 03/28/2015 - 4:00 ET
Both clubs will be missing a lot of players through both injury & international duty, but Montreal is likely to miss Justin Mapp more than Orlando will miss anyone from their roster. Prior to is elbow injury, Mapp was making Montreal look effective in CONCACAF play and he's going to be sorely missed. Orlando is coming off a horrible loss to Vancouver when they were trying to kill off the game for a point, and it bit them. I expect them to play hard for the win and accept a draw if they aren't leading by the 80th.
Montreal 0 | 1 OCSC. Watchable, but only barely as scoring will be at a premium.
New York City FC vs. Sporting Kansas City - 03/28/2015 - 7:00 ET
So far, NYCFC has been overall a solid team, drawing both road matches and looking dominant at home. They should continue that this week against Sporting, who have looked all the part of the Western Conference bottom dwellers they are. NYCFC runs away with this game.
NYCFC 3 | 0 SKC. Very watchable with Villa running the show.
Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bull - 03/28/2015 - 7:30 ET
Admittedly, I've seen almost nothing out of Columbus so far, thanks to the Dynamo's blackout overage and my general distaste for watching the Crew. Red Bull, what I have seen of them has been solid, but unspectacular. At best, I expect a 0-0 or 1-1 draw with one club salvaging a point late.
CCSC 0 | 0 NYRB. All in all, a match to avoid.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers - 03/28/2015 - 8:00 ET
Vancouver, even with the players gone from suspension and international duty, should and let me stress this should have no trouble with a toothless Portland team. There will be tons of speed on display and probably more than a few tackles that will deserve Disciplinary Committee review on Monday, but Vancouver has the better goalkeeping and Portland can't score.
VAN 2 | 0 PTFC. Watchable, if you like Flying Circus defending and blown breakaways.
Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids - 03/28/2015 - 8:30 ET
The best thing I can say about this game is that Dallas vs. Seattle is on at the same time, (God, that feels so dirty to say...) so you can totally avoid this game. Houston at home, should win, but will find a way to only get a point out of Colorado who will be looking to wrestle last place in the Western Conference from the clutches of Sporting KC.
Houston 0 | 0 Colorado. Avoid like you would the child of an anti-vaxxer.
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders FC - 03/28/2015 - 8:30 ET
Both clubs will have their depth challenged with Seattle missing Marco Pappa and Clint Dempsey. Oba Martins still has the ability to carry them with some offense, but it's likely too much of a load for just him and their midfield & back line are suspect. Dallas will be missing a lot of their offensive punch, but Oscar Pareja, who along with Jason Kries should be on the call list to replace Jurgen Klinsmann, has Dallas playing fast, hard and deliberate soccer.
FC Dallas 2 | 1 Sounders FC. Consider this match your gift for suffering through some of the opening acts on the schedule.
Chicago (Dumpster) Fire vs. Philadelphia Union - 03/29/2015 - 5:00 ET
Chicago will be without two of their three designated players, which may be a blessing in disguise and both of them look unprepared for MLS. Philadelphia is a poor, poor team, but they are light years ahead of the Chicago (Dumpster) Fire in team cohesion and morale. Yallop lost this team at the end of last season and did nothing in the off season to get it back. Chicago finds a way to lose to a hapless Union, bank it.
Chicago (Dumpster) Fire 0 | 2 Union. Take a nap, Yallop will be.
Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC - 03/29/2015 - 7:00 ET
It's hard to get a feel for this game other than a match that might see a breakout bench player, play the hero, for on club or the other. TFC will be missing their midfield general and striker & RSL will be missing their rock on defense in Nick Rimando. I give the edge to TFC finding a way through for all 3 points after a bevy of missed shots.
RSL 1 | 2 TFC. May be worth watching, you'll have to take the risk.
And as always, if you find yourself unable to watch, join us down in the MLS Week 4 PBP thread on BigSoccer for your weekly dose of sarcasm and use it as a place to display your moribund disgust with your team. Or maybe that's just me. But hey, you don't likely have anything better to do with your life.